Straight from the brain
a team of Indian scientists believes dopamine (da), a neurotransmitter, may help fight gastric cancer that affects as many as 10-15 of every 100,000 people in the country. The scientists from Kolkata's Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, the Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research and the us -based Mayo Clinic Cancer Center discovered da selectively shuts down the activity of vascular endothelial growth factor, a protein that generates new blood vessels leading to the growth of gastric cancer cells.
"We found a low, non-toxic dose of da stifled gastric cancer cells in rats as well as human gastric cancer cells grown in mice," says team leader Partha Sarathi Dasgupta. "As da is already in clinical use, it could also be used for treating gastric cancer which, till date, has no significant treatment," he adds. The study was published in Clinical Cancer Research (Vol 10, No 13).
For the study, the scientists induced gastric cancer in rats by giving them water laced with n -methyl- n -nitro- n -nitrosoguanidine ( mnng ), a carcinogen. These rats formed the mnng treatment group, whereas rats given normal water constituted the control group.
Rats with palpable tumour in the mnng group were divided into three sub-groups: the first received a da injection at a non-toxic dose of 50 mg per kg body weight; the second received domperidone, a da -blocker, before da treatment and the last, only normal saline. After completion of the da treatment, all the rats were killed and dissected.
It was found the tumour in rats in the first sub-group shrank to one-third as compared to the rats given saline. In contrast, da did not inhibit tumours in rats from the second sub-group, proving da 's role in tumour inhibition. The mnng group rats had lower da levels than those in the control group.
To study the effects of da on human gastric cancer cells, the scientists grew tumours in immuno-deficient mice by transplanting hs746 t , a human gastric cancer cell line. In these mice, too, da shrank the tumours to a third of their size.
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